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A cash-strapped council has been slammed for spending taxpayers' cash on giant green plant pots which has left a town centre looking like "something from Super Mario Brothers".
Walsall Council has forked out thousands of pounds on around 15 massive planters
in a bid to "promote a feeling of wellbeing and safety" in the Black Country town.
But residents have accused the authority of wasting public funds on a "garish eyesore" at a time they are trying to slash £29 million from their budget.
Some locals say the huge pots have made the area look more like a level from the classic Nintendo computer game Super Mario Brothers.
Others say the money could have been better spent elsewhere on trying to drive businesses back to the "decaying" town centre following several store closures.
Local florist Andrea Loveridge, 39, said: "We've had so many shop closures in the last few years and the best thing the council can come up with is these garish monstrosities.
"It beggars belief. It makes the place like more like something from Super Mario Brothers. They look like those warp pipes Mario jumps down.
"Against the backdrop of grey concrete and empty shops, they just look terrible.
"Why aren't they spending money investing on trying to get businesses back into the town centre? This will just continue to put people off surely."
Mum-of-two Joanna Parrish, 37, added: "The colour is vile, they are a garish eyesore and a complete waste of taxpayer's money.
"Walsall is a ghost town these days and this does nothing. They should be lowering business rates instead of splashing money on pointless huge plant pots. "
Supermarket worker Sue Morrisson, 45, said: "They should be investing in trying to clean up the town centre and sorting out building which have been left to rot.
"They would look ok in a vibrant, modern town but in a dilapidated and tired looking town like Walsall, they just stand out like a sore thumb.
"We have recently lost Debenhams and M&S and I can't see them running back to us anytime soon, everyone is calling them Mario pipes, it makes us a bit of a laughing stock."
Other locals took to social media to express their dismay, with one Facebook user writing: "Walsall Council meeting a few months ago…
"I know what will bring shoppers back! Huge tacky bright green pots that’ll do it!
"The disconnect between reality from the members of Walsall Council past and present is staggering.
"Imbecilic and moronic to the max…they need to be studied as examples of how not to run a town!"
One person added: "I'm expecting Mario to pop out of one" while another quipped "Mario, level 4"
However, others welcomed the decision with one person writing: "At least the council are trying to brighten the place up."
Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "It's understandable that many residents are angry about how their hard-earned taxes have been spent.
"The pandemic only worsened the decline of the high street, any funds for redeveloping the town centre must be spent wisely to attract businesses.
"The local council must get maximum value for taxpayers in future."
Town hall bosses defended the move to spend part of a £750,000 central government grant on the plant pots.
Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council and Portfolio holder for Regeneration said, “Residents may be aware of the addition of some colourful planters in the town centre.
"This is part of a project funded by national government’s Accelerated Towns Funding.
"Walsall Council has been awarded £750k each for Bloxwich and Walsall Town centres to make early interventions, building momentum towards the main Towns Fund bid.
"The work in Walsall Town Centre is intended to deliver a range of improvements to promote a feeling of wellbeing and safety and enhance the town centre environment and a key element of this work was to introduce more planting into the town centre to create a more social space outside the Walsall Art Gallery.”